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Are the Anti-Bacterial Properties of Coconut Oil Desirable?

by (78417)
Updated about 23 hours ago
Created April 28, 2011 at 6:31 PM

Many people tout Coconut oil's anti-bacterial properties as somehow good. However, if it really does kill bacteria, then that means it kills good bacteria as well as bad bacteria when it passes through the gut. If so, is this something that we should be ingesting, especially in the hyper-sanitized world we live in?

322a2783dfe4086591f323c6d2c086d6
0 · September 19, 2013 at 2:34 PM

Dr. Mary Enig Ph.D writes:

"Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human or animal body. Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human or animal to destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria, including listeria monocytogenes and helicobacter pylori, and protozoa such as giardia lamblia. Some studies have also shown some antimicrobial effects of the free lauric acid."

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3979 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Okay, but the thread is about whether beneficial flora is among the bacteria discouraged.

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3979 · September 21, 2012 at 9:56 PM

Actually I'm pretty sure the majority of our bacterial flora reside in the SMALL intestine.

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5201 · September 21, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Sweet oil (olive oil) is sometimes used to relieve ear pain. It can also soften ear wax. I suppose that coconut oil would act similarly.

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5201 · September 21, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Most of our bacterial flora reside in the large intestine. There is a condition called SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) where large numbers of bacteria colonize the small intestine and the bacterial flora resembles that of the large intestine, not the small which usually contains a different type.

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3979 · September 21, 2012 at 1:46 PM

God didn't create coconut oil. Nor did nature.

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3979 · September 21, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Hello? I think this is an important question...

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3
12677 · September 14, 2012 at 7:28 AM

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0769260983900091

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3
12677 · September 14, 2012 at 7:28 AM

Nope, sorry. Many medically administered antibiotics are derived from natural sources. Example: penicillin, a natural antibiotic derived from fungi, targets gram positive bacteria. Most good bacteria is gram positive. Alas being "natural" is not necessarily good.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7
3979 · September 12, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Ah, but who created chickens?

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3979 · September 12, 2012 at 11:14 PM

The colon is the large intestine. What about the small intestine, where all our intestinal flora is?

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655 · May 20, 2012 at 8:33 PM

http://paleohacks.com/questions/61107/does-coconut-oil-kill-friendly-gut-flora

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3280 · May 20, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Yes, but who created the Mesoamerican people? I like eggs. Who created eggs? Chickens!

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78417 · May 20, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Mesoamerican people created chocolate, from cacao seeds. :)

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78417 · May 20, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Mesoamerican people created chocolate from cacao seeds. :)

7cc8ea23309b0026611a93a806de208d
0 · April 05, 2012 at 7:01 AM

I agree, great question.

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17103 · February 17, 2012 at 11:50 AM

It also brought the extinction of some animals and plants over others. For example, dogs were adapted out of wolves. Cats were domesticated. Mice and rats developed the ability to eat grains because of our grain stores. You can be sure that bacterial colonies have similarly been affected, some possibly previously beneficial ones (h-pylori) are now causing us issues. MRSA developed from exposure to antibiotics, etc.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84
17103 · February 17, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Um, us atheists don't believe in a "Mother Nature", there's no lady out there with either beneficial intent or malevolent intent. Nature just is, it doesn't have a will, it doesn't have desires, nor intent. It's not conscious. It simply is the environment that we adapted to live in. Unfortunately, as we moved to agriculture, we also moved to staying in one place and farming. That opened up several things including kings, thieves, slavery, land ownership, creating new forms of animals and plans through selection, etc.

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2544 · October 12, 2011 at 11:56 PM

@Becker .............

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2544 · October 12, 2011 at 11:56 PM

This is wrong... we DONT want mostly gram negative... most probiotics are gram positive...

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4764 · May 02, 2011 at 12:44 AM

Interesting paper, thanks so much for taking the time to post it. :)

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3417 · April 28, 2011 at 9:47 PM

Good call, Richard. I hadn't considered that. Most of our natural flora are Gram negative -- lipid coated exterior. Maybe lauric acid disrupts the peptidoglycan exterior of Gram positive bacteria??

Medium avatar
12369 · April 28, 2011 at 9:37 PM

a Herxheimer reaction really only happens if there are lots of bad bacteria in the subject - sick getting sicker before getting better

Medium avatar
12369 · April 28, 2011 at 9:36 PM

There seems to be a link between the anti-microbial effects of the aluric acid and microbes with a lipid layer - the good gut flora (lactobacillus and his friends) don't have a lipid outer-layer

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1310 · April 28, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Lauric acid is supposed to kill lipid coated viruses and bacteria, probiotics are not lipid coated.

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1310 · April 28, 2011 at 9:30 PM

lauric acid is supposed to kill the lipid coated viruses and bacteria...probiotics are no supposed to be lipid coated

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78417 · April 28, 2011 at 8:48 PM

Can you share with us how your critical thinking and research has led you to the above opinion?

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78417 · April 28, 2011 at 8:47 PM

Also, if it is strong enough to bring about a Herxheimer reaction (releasing poisons from spirochetes) then it must be killing a lot of them. If that is the case, then I don't see how it is much different from an anti-biotic. I mean, in that case it IS an anti-biotic.

Medium avatar
12369 · April 28, 2011 at 8:46 PM

I've been searching for information regarding the effects of lauric acid on good gut-flora, but I'm coming up empty-handed. My assumption is based on a couple of years of microbiology study and some critical thinking.

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78417 · April 28, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Katherine, this study indicates that it does kill bacteria (in this instance for the good): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2772209/?tool=pmcentrez I don't understand this argument (stated in a previous answer) that it is possible for it to kill "bad" bacteria as opposed to good bacteria.

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78417 · April 28, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Bree, what's this answer based upon?

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78417 · April 28, 2011 at 8:07 PM

How does it distinguish between the two?

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3521 · April 28, 2011 at 6:41 PM

Great question.

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3946 · April 28, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Waiting on answers to this one.

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16 Answers

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94
8
4359 · April 28, 2011 at 10:26 PM

Medium chain triglycerides are absorbed in the upper gut so they never reach the colon.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7
3979 · September 21, 2012 at 9:56 PM

Actually I'm pretty sure the majority of our bacterial flora reside in the SMALL intestine.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e
5201 · September 21, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Most of our bacterial flora reside in the large intestine. There is a condition called SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) where large numbers of bacteria colonize the small intestine and the bacterial flora resembles that of the large intestine, not the small which usually contains a different type.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7
3979 · September 21, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Hello? I think this is an important question...

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7
3979 · September 12, 2012 at 11:14 PM

The colon is the large intestine. What about the small intestine, where all our intestinal flora is?

3c997ffae3db9464325b96979346d9e9
3
1310 · April 28, 2011 at 7:06 PM

The lauric acid in coconut oil is not supposed to kill the good bacteria in the gut

Ef4c5b09fdccf73be575d3a0c267fdd9
2544 · October 12, 2011 at 11:56 PM

@Becker .............

Ef4c5b09fdccf73be575d3a0c267fdd9
2544 · October 12, 2011 at 11:56 PM

This is wrong... we DONT want mostly gram negative... most probiotics are gram positive...

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58
3417 · April 28, 2011 at 9:47 PM

Good call, Richard. I hadn't considered that. Most of our natural flora are Gram negative -- lipid coated exterior. Maybe lauric acid disrupts the peptidoglycan exterior of Gram positive bacteria??

3c997ffae3db9464325b96979346d9e9
1310 · April 28, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Lauric acid is supposed to kill lipid coated viruses and bacteria, probiotics are not lipid coated.

3c997ffae3db9464325b96979346d9e9
1310 · April 28, 2011 at 9:30 PM

lauric acid is supposed to kill the lipid coated viruses and bacteria...probiotics are no supposed to be lipid coated

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78417 · April 28, 2011 at 8:07 PM

How does it distinguish between the two?

Medium avatar
3
12369 · April 28, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Yes we should be ingesting it! The benefits far outweigh any worry about killing off good bacteria - your body is colonized with so much good bacteria that you would have to spend you life eating coconut oil inorder to do major damage (IMO) But definitely watch the amount! Read the post today from ROB re: fat overload and the possibility of a Herxheimer reaction.

Medium avatar
12369 · April 28, 2011 at 9:37 PM

a Herxheimer reaction really only happens if there are lots of bad bacteria in the subject - sick getting sicker before getting better

Medium avatar
12369 · April 28, 2011 at 9:36 PM

There seems to be a link between the anti-microbial effects of the aluric acid and microbes with a lipid layer - the good gut flora (lactobacillus and his friends) don't have a lipid outer-layer

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78417 · April 28, 2011 at 8:48 PM

Can you share with us how your critical thinking and research has led you to the above opinion?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78417 · April 28, 2011 at 8:47 PM

Also, if it is strong enough to bring about a Herxheimer reaction (releasing poisons from spirochetes) then it must be killing a lot of them. If that is the case, then I don't see how it is much different from an anti-biotic. I mean, in that case it IS an anti-biotic.

Medium avatar
12369 · April 28, 2011 at 8:46 PM

I've been searching for information regarding the effects of lauric acid on good gut-flora, but I'm coming up empty-handed. My assumption is based on a couple of years of microbiology study and some critical thinking.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78417 · April 28, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Bree, what's this answer based upon?

41412b0c69288a4d2c64c577a02ba8e3
1
10 · September 21, 2012 at 1:10 PM

About a year ago I added coconut oil to my typical breakfast of eggbeaters. After cooking the eggbeaters I add a large tablespoon of coconut oil. The first thing I noticed was an improvement in my oral health. My gums seemed healthier. When I went to my regular 3 month cleaning the technician was done in about 15 min. When I questioned her about why it didnt take the normal 30-40 minutes to clean my teeth she said that there is very little plaque. I read more about coconut oil and its antibacterial properties and it made sense to me. If plaque is caused by bacteria and by eating coconut oil I am killing that plaque then I am hoping its doing the same thing to the plaque in my arteries. Im a believer. Just had another appointment and the dentist said since there is so little plaque and gums are in such good shape she should change my cleanings to every 6 months. By the way, I have never had very good oral hygene habits and that continues. I brush my teeth infrequently, maybe 3 times a week. I hate to admit that but its true and so is the fact that coconut oil has healed my bleeding gums and gotten rid of almost all my normal plaque deposits.

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3280 · May 20, 2012 at 1:41 PM

God (or mother nature) created chocolate.

Chocolate is tasty to us, toxic for dogs.

Not everything on this planet is optimal for all creatures on the plant.

Just say'n.

Mike

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3979 · September 12, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Ah, but who created chickens?

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3280 · May 20, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Yes, but who created the Mesoamerican people? I like eggs. Who created eggs? Chickens!

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78417 · May 20, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Mesoamerican people created chocolate, from cacao seeds. :)

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78417 · May 20, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Mesoamerican people created chocolate from cacao seeds. :)

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1
454 · April 28, 2011 at 6:37 PM

I've been regularly consuming and using coconut oil as a moisturizer for the past 2 months and I haven't noticed anything negative. My skin has never been this smooth and I feel better than I have in a long time (not that it all has to do with the coconut oil). My acne and cuts heal faster than before. Also, it hasn't affected my bowl movements negatively either. Sorry my answer isn't scientific or anything, but it's the truth :)

34c0c094ec755cd24adf7a8bdf4860c9
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0 · August 09, 2013 at 5:35 AM

This is a good question. I can say that coconut oil messed up my bowel habits. I had to go off of it and onto some probiotics to fix the problem. People say zeolite only removes heavy metals but not minerals, but I can testify that's not true either. I can't take zeolite for that reason. For the reasonably healthy person or only somewhat sick person, these are awesome. But I'd be careful otherwise. Just listen to your body. Be watchful.

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0 · November 24, 2012 at 8:49 PM

Stomach acid is meant to sterilize the food. Mostly this works, and the upper small bowel is often sterile. Effects of coconut oil will be minimal compared to hydrochloric acid.

The medium chain triglycerides, the active antibacterial agents, are absorbed in the upper small bowel. They should help with the sterility there, a desirable thing.

In practice, many native people in the tropics have coconut as a major component of their diet, and they are doing just fine from a bowel health standpoint. This is not a problem.

George

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0 · September 29, 2012 at 11:46 PM

The medium chain fatty acids are not anti-bacterial until they are broken apart from the triglycerides. So, they are mostly anti-bacterial and anti-viral in your bloodstream. It's like the best of both worlds. They don't affect gut bacteria, but they work against the bad boys trying to kill you from the inside.

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0 · September 24, 2012 at 1:39 PM

More then once study has been done in recent years showing that coconut oil has properties to it which discourages bacteria, fungi and possibly even viruses. A study done in the University of Santo Tomas showed that. I had read about it a bit on here originally: http://avrotor.blogspot.com/2009/06/by-dr-abe-v-rotor-virgin-coconut-oil-is.html

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3979 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Okay, but the thread is about whether beneficial flora is among the bacteria discouraged.

20c2203e923d8ab9e0e8f3f75a31d975
0
0 · September 14, 2012 at 7:07 AM

natural antibiotics do not kill good bacteria

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3
12677 · September 14, 2012 at 7:28 AM

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0769260983900091

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3
12677 · September 14, 2012 at 7:28 AM

Nope, sorry. Many medically administered antibiotics are derived from natural sources. Example: penicillin, a natural antibiotic derived from fungi, targets gram positive bacteria. Most good bacteria is gram positive. Alas being "natural" is not necessarily good.

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0
8 · February 17, 2012 at 1:01 AM

I dont know how to respond to this but 2 ways:

god believers: do you seriously think god creates such beneficial food for human consumption with such horrible side effects(cleaning good bacterias)?

atheists:do you seriously think mother nature produces such beneficial food for human consumption with such horrible side effects(cleaning good bacterias)?

i understand if we were to take man made anti-biotic, all bacteria will be killed and you need to replenish good ones back. but nature is so perfect that do u seriously think it has effect same as man made "cures". Til today, man made medicine has always worked in ways that fixes one problem and causes another. eveything from HIV drugs to the innocent ascorbic acid. Nature has so much to offer...but we have been brainwashed to think all medicine work the same way as man made ones. if god/mother nature creates a food suited for human consumption, delicious, natural, has so much nourishing and health benefit, do you seriously think he/she would put in side effects that can cause people's life? if so, god/mother is a cruel thing or just has too much time to spare and make pointless things on earth.

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3979 · September 21, 2012 at 1:46 PM

God didn't create coconut oil. Nor did nature.

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17103 · February 17, 2012 at 11:50 AM

It also brought the extinction of some animals and plants over others. For example, dogs were adapted out of wolves. Cats were domesticated. Mice and rats developed the ability to eat grains because of our grain stores. You can be sure that bacterial colonies have similarly been affected, some possibly previously beneficial ones (h-pylori) are now causing us issues. MRSA developed from exposure to antibiotics, etc.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84
17103 · February 17, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Um, us atheists don't believe in a "Mother Nature", there's no lady out there with either beneficial intent or malevolent intent. Nature just is, it doesn't have a will, it doesn't have desires, nor intent. It's not conscious. It simply is the environment that we adapted to live in. Unfortunately, as we moved to agriculture, we also moved to staying in one place and farming. That opened up several things including kings, thieves, slavery, land ownership, creating new forms of animals and plans through selection, etc.

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753 · April 28, 2011 at 10:16 PM

I read today that a couple drops of coconut oil in the ear will clear up a clogged ear. Anyone have any experience with that? :)

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e
5201 · September 21, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Sweet oil (olive oil) is sometimes used to relieve ear pain. It can also soften ear wax. I suppose that coconut oil would act similarly.

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3417 · April 28, 2011 at 9:00 PM

The Tiana coconut company's website suggests that lauric acid doesn't harm natural bacterial flora but instead exhibits antimicrobial activity only with invaders. Of course, they have a vested interest in convincing consumers that that is the case, and they didn't cite anything, so it's hard to say if that's true. I've been searching for the antimicrobial mechanism of lauric acid, but I can't find anything. That just leaves me with the unsatisfying guess of an answer that if the Tiana people are correct, then our natural flora have evolved to roll with the lauric acid punches in the HG diet, maybe even eat the lauric acid, and the invaders haven't been able to do so.

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4764 · April 28, 2011 at 7:56 PM

I've never seen any evidence that coconut oil is anti-bacterial but rather that lauric acid is anti-fungal (in vitro afaik) and that it may be beneficial from that perspective.

Two very different things...

322a2783dfe4086591f323c6d2c086d6
0 · September 19, 2013 at 2:34 PM

Dr. Mary Enig Ph.D writes:

"Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human or animal body. Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human or animal to destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria, including listeria monocytogenes and helicobacter pylori, and protozoa such as giardia lamblia. Some studies have also shown some antimicrobial effects of the free lauric acid."

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34
4764 · May 02, 2011 at 12:44 AM

Interesting paper, thanks so much for taking the time to post it. :)

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78417 · April 28, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Katherine, this study indicates that it does kill bacteria (in this instance for the good): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2772209/?tool=pmcentrez I don't understand this argument (stated in a previous answer) that it is possible for it to kill "bad" bacteria as opposed to good bacteria.

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